What is a Lactation Consultant?

If you’ve never interacted with a lactation consultant, it’s only natural to wonder what it is, exactly, that these healthcare professionals do. What kind of services does a lactation consultant offer? Why would someone need to consult with one? What credentials does a lactation consultant have, and what kind of training do they receive? If you need one, how do you go about finding a good one? Let’s explore the unknowns regarding lactation consultants and the services they perform.

Typical Job Description and Responsibilities

Lactation consultants help new mothers learn everything they need to know about breastfeeding their newborn babies. While breastfeeding is a natural act, most new moms don’t instinctively understand how to do it. They have questions that need answering, and they often need support in getting started with breastfeeding. Common questions include:

  • How do I know my baby is getting a substantial enough quantity of milk to drink?
  • How do I know I’m making enough milk to supply my baby’s needs?
  • How should my baby be positioned when breastfeeding?
  • What do I do if I feel pain when breastfeeding my baby?
  • How do I use a breast pump?

A qualified lactation consultant can help a new mother answer all these questions and others. Lactation consultants also offer hands-on help with a variety of issues that new mothers experience when learning how to breastfeed.

It’s common for new mothers to have difficulty figuring out how to position their babies for optimum success with breastfeeding. Little flailing arms can get in the way, and a sleep-deprived mom may feel helpless to grab the baby and get him into position. Often the baby’s latch is incorrect. The mother may be experiencing nipple soreness or pain. Sometimes a milk duct gets plugged, which causes problems with feeding. A lactation consultant can help a new mother work through all these problems to fix them and achieve success with nursing her baby.

Some lactation consultants will weigh a newborn before and after a feeding session to ensure the baby is actually consuming breast milk.

How Does a New Mother Find a Qualified Lactation Consultant?

Many new moms find lactation consultants through the facilities where they give birth; their doctor, nurse, midwife, hospital or insurance provider may have helpful recommendations to share.

It’s also possible to find excellent lactation consultants by searching on the Internet. La Leche League, International, ILCA and the IBLCE are three reputable organizations you can contact to find a lactation consultant.

What Credentials Does a Lactation Consultant Need?

Credentials varies depending on the lactation consultant’s employer and state of practice. IBLCE certification is an excellent credential to look for.

Does Health Insurance Cover the Costs of a Lactation Consultant’s Services?

It is likely that your health insurance will cover the costs of a lactation consultation under some circumstances. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Affordable Care Act was responsible for a dramatic increase in the coverage available to new moms for lactation consultation services. Check with your insurance provider for details of the specific services that are covered by your plan.

Related Resource: 5 Qualifications of a Medicaid Compliance Auditor

We hope these insights are helpful to you in understanding more about lactation consultation services. If you’re interested in either finding a lactation consultant or becoming one, you’re now empowered with the information you need.